Final Fantasy 7 Remake – Review
After several announcements and cancellations the first instalment of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake (FF7R) has finally made it to our consoles. It’s risky taking on one of the most successful games from the past and bring it to the modern age. You’ve got a diverse set of audiences that you need to cater for, such as, die hard fans who have spent 100’s of hours on the original PS1 game all the way to the brand new fans who have never had the joy of experiencing Clouds journey. You’ll be happy to hear that SquareEnix have managed to pull it off and have released a pretty solid Final Fantasy experience.
Within seconds of playing the game you’ll be hurled straight into the action, in which the first big change of FF7 is presented, its battle system. Rather than donning the old style turn based system, FF7R guns for a more fast-pace action orientated play-style which focuses you on strategically slashing, parrying, blocking and dodging your way to victory. Along the way you will pick up new party members that you can swap between during battle. Each new party member has unique strengths and weaknesses, which gives them all unique play-styles. The game promotes you to switch through your party actively, to try out different strategies across various scenarios. Although for those who prefer to stick with the protagonist, the game can be won by simply just playing as Cloud, although as a result, it will make for a slightly harder experience as the AI will not proactively exploit enemies’ strengths and weaknesses for you. Which nicely takes me onto the difficulty. The game is not hard, even on its hardest setting which is unlocked upon completion of the main story. During my own play through on Normal, I had only experienced defeat one time, where my party met its unfortunate demise. I had to reload to the closest save point which was moments before my death, which is pretty consistent with the auto-saving in the rest of this game. I definitely wouldn’t knock FF7R score down due to it being easy, as it gets the balance right between fun and difficulty, it does a good job of making you feel like the people you are controlling or travelling with are a powerful team of heroes, who will stop at nothing to achieve victory.
Minus some minor clipping issues, my only real frustration with the new playstyle, which is only a small frustration, is the inability to jump in combat. Instead, in battles, when you want to attack an enemy that is elevated, you need to spam the attack button when close to the target and hope that they jump up and attack. I feel by giving the players the ability to jump, it helps us feel like we have more control over the battles opposed to relying on system mechanics.
FF7 has easily one of the most memorable soundtracks in gaming history, which FF7R handles with its utmost respect. Rather than re-using the original soundtrack, the team at SquareEnix have opted to enhance the existing soundtrack and bring it into the modern age. When playing the game it feels like the music has all been specifically tailored to fit to different scenarios. For example, when fighting an early robot boss, the original battle music plays, but with a more synthesised style. Where-as when I fought a boss that was more along the lines of a monster, it donned a more metal style guitar version of the original Boss Music which makes the fight just feel that little more epic. SquareEnix has really thought out how the music can influence the mood, which has lead me to feel that FF7 has easily, once again, topped my best soundtrack within a game.
My view on the voice acting is a strange one. The cast are amazing! SquareEnix have managed to find actors that are able to absolutely nail their roles and when watching characters talk, the voice that is projected, fits the face. Which is really important as its a key defining feature that alot of JRPGs get wrong. It allows players to really invest into a specific character and if they sound over the top, or unrealistic then players will disconnect from that character very quickly. Although, it seems clear that, at the more trivial parts of the games such as side quests or filler content, that the cast never recorded together, which im turn results in some quite robotic and un-personalised conversations. Although, this is only a minority of the conversations and rarily happens during the main dialog across the game.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake takes a really weird spot with me on its graphics. During the key moments in the game, the graphics EASILY take first place for this generation. The environmental graphics such puddles, reflections, flames and sparks are utterly hands down amazing. The character models of the main cast and main side characters are perfect. They all have pours, scars and their facial animations are utterly insane. Every little event in the game seems to invoke a characters face to respond, which gives you a means to understand what they are thinking and how they feel, without the need for sound or voice. It's incredible.
Although, FF7R falls short with its graphics on some really strange textures. At times, some of the side quest givers had facial textures of a PS3 era game, and some of the in game interactable textures had really poor quality textures against them, I’m talking PS2 era graphics, which can at times really pull you out of the emersion. An example of this is when you are asked to go and find your room. You walk down a corridor and all of the doors are literally rendered in as a big brown blur. I thought at first I had encountered a glitch and the texture would render through any moment. But as I revisited the area again, the doors remained the same. Another thing that doesn’t quite hit the mark for me was the sky boxes. At times when you climb into areas where you get to view the horizon of the city (which is quite frequently in this game) they seem quite poor in quality. The majority of the skyboxes where incredible and just took your breath away, but towards the end of the game, there were a couple of skyboxes that just lacked that polish that the earlier ones had. So, many games get this right and it feels so wrong that FF7R misses the mark on this. But these are not game breaking issues and never really broke the immersion enough to ruin the experience for me.
This section is the section that contains light spoilers, this is the last warning: FF7R takes the 7 to 8 hours Midgar story from FF7 and turns it into around 40 hours of story. The bottom line is the extra story is NOT filler. FF7R does a fantastic job of taking the original story and telling it in the same way as the original but adding so much more meat to the bone. The game now focuses on giving you time to understand and invest into the rich cast of character. The game spoon feeds you enough backstory that if anything was to happen to them, it would cause you to have some sort of an impact. The game really allows you get to dive into the back story of these characters and learn things you never really got the opportunity to explore in the previous games and that includes the understsnding of the true capability of the enemy of our game, Shinra.
I might seem like I contradict myself in this next part, but it’s because I can’t quite work out how I feel about this, but i'll share it. It’s Final Fantasy 7 Remakes ending that gets me nervous for the future of this series. It seems it’s at this point that director Tetsuya Nomura’s signature Kingdom Hearts story telling style oozes out of the remake. Going for a confusing, more Kingdom Hearts Style ending opposed to an original tied up Final Fantasy style ending. FF7R gives us an intense and satisfying end to the game thought, donning a boss battle that compares to the cinematic fights in the animated film Final Fantasy 7 Advent Children. But it’s this conclusion that drives fans to question what the team plans for the next instalments of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake. The nervousness comes from SquareEnix's decision to tease MAJOR changes to the story of FF7 and hints at changing the story for the next installments. But we will see what this means in the next game.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a fun, full game with a satisfying ending. The gameplay is solid and compliments its roots. The graphics are a glimpse of what to expect in the next generation with a few exceptions on its side content and the soundtrack of this game is incredible, it has music that fits into its scenario. The voice acting is impressive when compared to other JRPGs, with an amazing and diverse cast, but is not as good as some of the other AAA titles of this generation.